September 12, 2007

Putin Sacks Government, Nominates Unknown

Vladimir Putin dismissed the Russian Prime Minister and his government almost three months ahead of scheduled elections. He had been widely expected to do so, but he crossed up the analysts and nominated an unknown as a replacement:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the resignation of PM Mikhail Fradkov and nominated a financial crime investigator to replace him.

Victor Zubkov, head of the federal financial monitoring service, is a relative unknown in Russian politics. ...

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has long been considered a frontrunner for the presidency, and Russian media had been speculating that he could be made premier.

Russian markets didn't budge at the announcement of Fradkov's resignation, but they may hiccup a little at Zubkov's nomination. Ivanov had widely been seen as Putin's favorite, having accompanied him at many public events. Vedemosti, the Russian business publication, had already been discussing Ivanov's ascension as a strong probability. If the Russian markets had built a transfer to Ivanov into their calculations, the traders may have second thoughts now.

What does this mean? Putin could have had some falling out with both Ivanov and the other Deputy Minister, Dmitri Medvedev, both of whom have been tagged as the early front-runners to replace Putin in the next elections. The nomination of Zubkov gives the investigator a boost into presidential politics and could damage the prospects of the two deputies Putin apparently snubbed.

Putin supposedly wants to ensure a smooth transition at the end of his constitutionally limited term, but this seems designed to create chaos. Instead of anointing a successor, Putin has likely bequeathed Russia a muddled three-person race for the presidency. Does he believe that the political mess of a contested succession will create calls for a waiver that would allow Putin to remain in office?


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Comments (3)

Posted by Jazz | September 12, 2007 9:16 AM

Personally, I have long felt that anyone who expects Putin to quietly into the night is living in a fantasy world. He comes from a mindset where giving up power is simply verboten. He might still surprise me, but it would *definitely* be a surprise. I imagine Puting dreaming of the title "Emporer for Life" far more than "retired diplomat."

Posted by filistro | September 12, 2007 11:00 AM

It should have been obvious to everybody when Putin went on a fishing trip this summer and allowed those "mucho macho" bare-chested photos to be released in the media.

A Cult of Personality is being crafted. Not much doubt where it's going to lead, is there?

Posted by Jim | September 12, 2007 11:36 AM

He is old style KGB. He doesn't do anything without a plan that would benefit himself. One very sharp man that we should never turn our back on.

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